Flyers Comeback Falls Short in Home Opener
The Philadelphia Flyers opened their 2008-09 season at home against the red hot New York Rangers for the third time in the last four years losing 4-3 to their New York rival, which was started by a much anticipated drop of the first puck by Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin. After falling behind 4-0 the Flyers made a comeback, but fell short in the end.
The scoring started right out of the chute for the Rangers. Nikolai Zherdev scored their first goal just 4:12 into the first period, followed quickly by Blair Betts on a slam-dunk goal in front. Just over 3 minutes later Fredrik Sjostrom scored the third goal of the night on a lackadaisical play by the Flyers goaltender Martin Biron. The first period came to an end with Rangers power play goal at 16:13 of the period by Michael Rozsival, putting an end to a bad first period of the season and to Martin Biron’s night with Antero Niittymaki taking over.
As always the Flyers-Rangers is a very rough rivalry. After going down 4-0 newly named Captain Mike Richards took the leadership role and tried igniting the Flyers offense by fighting the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky. This turned out to be a very key play in the Flyers comeback attempt.
The second period started much like the first one, until the momentum shifted. After an early tripping penalty by Mike Knuble the Rangers went back to the power play. This is when the Flyers luck turned; Scott Hartnell put home the first goal of the season 3:13 into the second period on a wrist shot off the face-off, assisted by newcomer Glen Metropolit.
The Flyers have a couple of new names in the lineup this year including the 18 year old defenseman Luca Sbisa, who is trying to make the most of his time on this injury ridden defense core. He ended the game a minus one with 2 PIM.
Later in the second period the Flyers struck again on starting goaltender Stephen Valiquette. Simon Gagne, coming off the concussion injury last season, scored his first goal of the year assisted by Daniel Briere 16:09 into the period making the score 4-2 Rangers after two periods of play.
The Flyers added onto their comeback after a key goal from Mike Richards off a beautiful pass by Briere 5:38 into the third period, thus igniting the Philadelphia crowd.
The Flyers would come up short due to a solid third period by Rangers goaltender Valiquette, coming up with a couple of key saves to lead the Rangers to their fourth straight victory to start the season. On the other side the Flyers drop their home opener moving to 0-1-0 and look to improve on their first period play Monday against the Montreal Canadiens starting at 7 PM.
By Dan Bernardo
ProHockey-fans.com Philadelphia Flyers Correspondent
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